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Tryin’ hard to look like Gary Cooper
—”Puttin’ on the Ritz,” Irving Berlin (revised lyrics, 1946)
Few things are truly timeless. Martinis, The Beatles, bespoke tweed…and, of course, Gary Cooper. Perhaps the nonpareil of Golden Age Hollywood’s gentlemen, Gary Cooper was a beloved icon of manliness and style in his prime—and has aged like fine wine. He is the definition of classic, his style reminiscent of a simpler time in life and fashion. These intimate family scrapbook photos from his personal collection, curated by his daughter, show us Gary Cooper was every inch and stitch the elegant paragon off-screen as on.
1940s heartthrob Gary Cooper never goes out of style (just ask your mother or your grandmother). He’s got that straightforward, honest, effortless handsomeness. No matter the costume he donned, he owned it. The camera loved him, and so did the box office.
An inspiration to the likes of Ralph Lauren, Cooper was casual and put together, rugged and classic, and altogether timeless. And when you look at these photos, you can’t even hate him for it, because what shines through more than any amount of star power is his unequivocal authenticity.
Now in its second edition with a fresh take on an American classic, Gary Cooper: Enduring Style gives readers a look at a larger-than-life leading man and the real life he led. The photos you’ll see were taken primarily by his wife, Rocky, and include snapshots of his home life, his easy style, and time spent with his friends (which, of course, include artist archetypes Cary Grant and Ernest Hemingway, among others). Regardless of place or present company, Cooper had the model outfit for every occasion, embodying a type of refined masculinity rarely seen—though always in high demand—to this day.
Gary Cooper’s daughter, Maria Cooper Janis, lived in LA with Cooper and his wife, Veronica (Rocky to friends), and pursued a painting career in New York before she married Byron Janis, the classical concert pianist. Maria, always embracing her father’s legacy, started the Gary Cooper Endowed Fund for Student Support for Indigenous Cultures in 2005 at The University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts, to empower and support students from Indigenous communities within the media and entertainment industry. She is the author of two previous books, both about her father: Gary Cooper Off Camera: A Daughter Remembers, and the previous edition of Gary Cooper: Enduring Style published by powerHouse Books in 2011.
Ralph Lauren is the Chairman and CEO of Polo Ralph Lauren, a global lifestyle brand representing the best in American design. Lauren’s career has spanned four decades, during which he has cultivated the iconography of America—whether it is a reflection of the New England coast, Native American culture, or Hollywood glamour—to create one of the most widely recognized families of consumer brands, worldwide.
G. Bruce Boyer has been a noted fashion writer and editor for more than 35 years. He was associated with Town & Country magazine as men’s fashion editor for 15 years. His articles have also appeared in Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and many other publications. He is the author of multiple books on the subject of men’s fashion and has also worked in advertising, PR, and media consulting for companies such as Nordstrom, Polo/Ralph Lauren, Southwick, Bergdorf Goodman, and Gant, among others.